Ethics Investigators to Interview College Officials in Georgia
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Officials at Kennesaw State College will be questioned by House ethics committee investigators Thursday about the college course taught there by Rep. Newt Gingrich in 1993.
The committee’s outside counsel, James Cole, a Washington attorney, is heading the investigation of Gingrich’s former course, ``Renewing American Civilization.″
Annette Lee, spokeswoman for the college near Atlanta, said Tuesday the meetings were scheduled with Betty Siegel, the college president; Timothy Mescon, its business school dean; Terri Lavelle, Mescon’s administrative assistant; and James Fleming, the chief operating officer of the college’s tax-exempt foundation.
Cole is investigating whether Gingrich’s activities in relation to the course violated federal tax law or whether any foundation involved with the course violated its tax-exempt status with Gingrich’s knowledge.
The course was financed with donations that were tax-deductible for the contributors. The donors could deduct the money because it was funneled through two foundations with tax-exempt status, including the Kennesaw State College Foundation run by Fleming.
Fleming handled most of the foundation’s contacts with the ``Renewing American Civilization″ project.
Mescon taught the course with Gingrich. According to documents made public earlier, the Republican leader contacted the administrator of the Agency for International Development on behalf of Mescon’s private consulting firm. At the time, Mescon was not a constituent of Gingrich’s Georgia district.
Lavelle coordinated contacts between the course project and the college.
Siegel received a handwritten note of greetings from Gingrich, but otherwise appeared to have had little contact with him about the course.
A complaint filed against Gingrich contends the course was not an educational activity that qualifies for tax-exempt contributions. Rather, the complaint says, the course was part of an effort to recruit Republican activists by GOPAC _ a political action committee led by Gingrich until last year.
Gingrich has argued the course was educational and blamed the complaint on Democrats embittered by their loss of the House in 1994.